Industry Responds To Report Linking Organophosphate Pesticides To ADHD

A new study published in a pediatrics journal claims that exposure to certain organophosphate pesticides (OP), like those used on some fruits and vegetables, can increase chances of children developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Both local and national media have picked up the story, causing concern for the produce industry. Luckily for apple growers, apples were not mentioned in the report, notes Nancy Foster of the U.S. Apple Association. She also points out that “Information on the use of pesticides in this study does not reflect the significant decline in OP use over the past decade. If exposure to OP pesticides were significant in affecting the diagnosis of ADHD, then there would be a corresponding drop in ADHD diagnosis.”

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United Fresh Produce Association’s Tom Stenzel also has responded to the report:

"Many of you may have seen news reports concerning research on the consumption of fresh produce and a possible link to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). United Fresh Produce Association certainly supports ongoing research into the causes of ADHD, but is concerned that misinterpretation of this single study could be counterproductive to children’s health.

The U.S. government and public health authorities around the world agree that the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh any potential risk of low levels of pesticide residues. In fact, the USDA’s 2008 report on pesticide residues referenced by the study found that 98% of fresh fruits and vegetable samples had no detectable residue levels at all. Of those few that were detectable, the report states “the vast majority were well below established tolerances,” which are determined by rigorous scientific review by the U.S. EPA as safe levels. It is a disservice to imply that the public should be concerned about the safety of fruits and vegetables in general when 98 percent of produce have no detectable residues at all.

U.S. health authorities recommend that Americans actually need to double their consumption of fruits and vegetables to protect their health. We must be extremely careful not to frighten consumers away from following that overriding health advice."

To see the report, click here.

Leave a Reply

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I bet this rebuttal doesn’t make national news!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I find it hard to establish credibility in your reporting due to the obvious loyalty to big time advertising sponsors like DuPont, whose add just so happens to be adjacent to this article.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

For heavens sake, when will the food industry start pointing out that parents allow their children to play on, run around on and lie on lawns that have been heavily sprayed with fertilizers, herbicides and some insecticides, not knowing at all about the chemicals they are using? Has the USDA been involved? I do not know.

Second of all: Why don’t we educate our population about the true healthful value of eating apples from unsprayed trees and cutting out the apple worms from the flesh of the apples we are about to consume? World-wide education about what an apple worm even looks like would be a long and extensive project.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Vern Is that all you can come up with if it is why even respond.On the other hand Dina bring up a good point. I see peaple spraying and fertiling thier lawns everyday while there childern are playing in the yard being treated.This is by far way more exposure than you would ever get from eating fresh worm free fruit.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Actually, the kids on the lawn are not very likely to be laying in organophosphate pesticides anymore. Lawn pesticides dursban and diazinon came off the market around 2000 (legally Dec 2001 but most had disappeared the summer before.) At roughly the same time a decrease in the resdential use of Orthene started and continued. There was also a significant increase in the diagnosis of ADHD starting around 2002 with the rate of diagnosis still going up. Graphs from 1990 to the present show almost a perfect mirror image of organo phophate use going down and ADHD diagnosis going up. It would be premature to claim organophospate pesticides had a protective or theraputic effect and give any recommendations based on those facts. But it would be no more premature than the recommendations to avoid organophosphates that accompanied the current media reports.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

DuPont is a great American company. They get a bad reputation for inventing all the great things the world needs, but the environmentalists don’t understand. $28 billion in revenues and $1.8 billion in profits. That equals advertising purchasing power, with plenty left to fight all the lawsuits against them. lol

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Fungicide,Herbicide,Pesticide,Insecticide we need to decide whose cide you are on. Right or Wrong vs. very profitable or less profitable. If you read the label, you will find the improper use of these chemicals could be considered Suicide or Genocide. long term use is Ecocide !

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

You all should read:”Teaming With Microbes:The Organic Gardeners Guide To The Soil Food Web.” Then you will understand the controversy…

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The proper use of pesticides has a place in agriculture, including organic agriculture which also uses…PESTICIDES!

If a grower didn’t have to spray they wouldn’t. It cost money but it is difficult to get produce through the gates of our trading partners…if you can call them partners. There are several things that are used in all countries that produce table grapes to make sure that spiders, black widows in CA and others in other parts of the world do not get moved through transit. Try telling a mother of a 6 year old that the welt on the kids leg was from a black widow.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Another useless study that simply correlated one variable with another. There is no science here, just cheap “research” without a control group or replication.

Unfortunately the general public has such a low level of science education and understanding of experimental design they don’t recognize the lack of worth such studies have.

A study like this one is only worth establishing the need to further investigate this situation.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Note “Teaming with Microbes” is written by Jeff Lowenfels. The person who made the post and will profit if you buy the book.

I feel advertisements should not be part of this message board. Jeff should have to pay for ads like everyone else.

In my next post, I’ll put in a plug for some great swamp land (er’ water front land) I have for sale in Florida as well as the next magic cure in a bottle.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I just came from the USDA PDP 1998 Summary for Fruits and veg. Of 7,017 total samples 4,296 tested positive for residues or 61.2%. Where do you come off claiming 98% tested clean? Go look at the source material!!!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

You know, even if this were definitely true, that consuming OPs raises ADHD levels, it would be a tragedy if parents stopped feeding their kids fresh fruit. The benefits so far outweigh the downside, it’s not even funny. Do you know how many kids today are going to have their lives shortened due to obesity-related health problems? It’s a damn shame.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The study looks good to me; statistically it seems to check out. There’s no control group because it’s an observational study, which is the normal starting point for research. Of course they need to do more investigation; but going by the data this group came up with, it’s a question of *how* these two are related, not if. They did also cite a number of other studies correlating organophosphate exposure with developmental problems in humans. This is not, in fact, the first study that’s found these kinds of results.

Something interesting that showed up was that higher OP residues in the kids’ urine was correlated negatively to income and blood lead levels; as expected, this shows that poor kids are already eating fewer fruits and vegetables. So I don’t expect any “panic” from this study and any followups to really have much effect on childhood obesity. Poor kids already don’t eat fruits and vegetables because WIC and crop subsidies don’t pay for them; middle-income and rich kids’ parents are going to switch to organic.

Here’s the link: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2009-3058v1 It may or may not come up for everyone– I’m on a university connection so I can’t tell if it might require subscription.

Sarah Taber
Doctor of Plant Medicine candidate
University of Florida

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

A few points. First it was irresponsible for this article to be released now in the first place.
Second to Tom Willey, Your report is twelve years old.
Third to Sarah Taber, you cannot link being poor to eating poorly no more than you can link being wealthy to eating wealthy. Poor causal linkage and if you are in the educational system then you should know better.
I believe this is once again an attack on the use of chemicals by people who have some misguided ideas on needing to eat “all natural”. I like the statement made above about how even organic sprays are pesticides. How about eliminating those too? God gave us the intelligence to work with all the elemental ingredients on this earth and these companies are coming up with some good methods for combating the pests of our produce. I can’t imagine a company that would put out a product that would knowingly cause harm as it would be like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Let’s think people.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I bet this rebuttal doesn’t make national news!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I find it hard to establish credibility in your reporting due to the obvious loyalty to big time advertising sponsors like DuPont, whose add just so happens to be adjacent to this article.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

For heavens sake, when will the food industry start pointing out that parents allow their children to play on, run around on and lie on lawns that have been heavily sprayed with fertilizers, herbicides and some insecticides, not knowing at all about the chemicals they are using? Has the USDA been involved? I do not know.

Second of all: Why don’t we educate our population about the true healthful value of eating apples from unsprayed trees and cutting out the apple worms from the flesh of the apples we are about to consume? World-wide education about what an apple worm even looks like would be a long and extensive project.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Vern Is that all you can come up with if it is why even respond.On the other hand Dina bring up a good point. I see peaple spraying and fertiling thier lawns everyday while there childern are playing in the yard being treated.This is by far way more exposure than you would ever get from eating fresh worm free fruit.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Actually, the kids on the lawn are not very likely to be laying in organophosphate pesticides anymore. Lawn pesticides dursban and diazinon came off the market around 2000 (legally Dec 2001 but most had disappeared the summer before.) At roughly the same time a decrease in the resdential use of Orthene started and continued. There was also a significant increase in the diagnosis of ADHD starting around 2002 with the rate of diagnosis still going up. Graphs from 1990 to the present show almost a perfect mirror image of organo phophate use going down and ADHD diagnosis going up. It would be premature to claim organophospate pesticides had a protective or theraputic effect and give any recommendations based on those facts. But it would be no more premature than the recommendations to avoid organophosphates that accompanied the current media reports.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

DuPont is a great American company. They get a bad reputation for inventing all the great things the world needs, but the environmentalists don’t understand. $28 billion in revenues and $1.8 billion in profits. That equals advertising purchasing power, with plenty left to fight all the lawsuits against them. lol

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Fungicide,Herbicide,Pesticide,Insecticide we need to decide whose cide you are on. Right or Wrong vs. very profitable or less profitable. If you read the label, you will find the improper use of these chemicals could be considered Suicide or Genocide. long term use is Ecocide !

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

You all should read:”Teaming With Microbes:The Organic Gardeners Guide To The Soil Food Web.” Then you will understand the controversy…

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The proper use of pesticides has a place in agriculture, including organic agriculture which also uses…PESTICIDES!

If a grower didn’t have to spray they wouldn’t. It cost money but it is difficult to get produce through the gates of our trading partners…if you can call them partners. There are several things that are used in all countries that produce table grapes to make sure that spiders, black widows in CA and others in other parts of the world do not get moved through transit. Try telling a mother of a 6 year old that the welt on the kids leg was from a black widow.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Another useless study that simply correlated one variable with another. There is no science here, just cheap “research” without a control group or replication.

Unfortunately the general public has such a low level of science education and understanding of experimental design they don’t recognize the lack of worth such studies have.

A study like this one is only worth establishing the need to further investigate this situation.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Note “Teaming with Microbes” is written by Jeff Lowenfels. The person who made the post and will profit if you buy the book.

I feel advertisements should not be part of this message board. Jeff should have to pay for ads like everyone else.

In my next post, I’ll put in a plug for some great swamp land (er’ water front land) I have for sale in Florida as well as the next magic cure in a bottle.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I just came from the USDA PDP 1998 Summary for Fruits and veg. Of 7,017 total samples 4,296 tested positive for residues or 61.2%. Where do you come off claiming 98% tested clean? Go look at the source material!!!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

You know, even if this were definitely true, that consuming OPs raises ADHD levels, it would be a tragedy if parents stopped feeding their kids fresh fruit. The benefits so far outweigh the downside, it’s not even funny. Do you know how many kids today are going to have their lives shortened due to obesity-related health problems? It’s a damn shame.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The study looks good to me; statistically it seems to check out. There’s no control group because it’s an observational study, which is the normal starting point for research. Of course they need to do more investigation; but going by the data this group came up with, it’s a question of *how* these two are related, not if. They did also cite a number of other studies correlating organophosphate exposure with developmental problems in humans. This is not, in fact, the first study that’s found these kinds of results.

Something interesting that showed up was that higher OP residues in the kids’ urine was correlated negatively to income and blood lead levels; as expected, this shows that poor kids are already eating fewer fruits and vegetables. So I don’t expect any “panic” from this study and any followups to really have much effect on childhood obesity. Poor kids already don’t eat fruits and vegetables because WIC and crop subsidies don’t pay for them; middle-income and rich kids’ parents are going to switch to organic.

Here’s the link: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2009-3058v1 It may or may not come up for everyone– I’m on a university connection so I can’t tell if it might require subscription.

Sarah Taber
Doctor of Plant Medicine candidate
University of Florida

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

A few points. First it was irresponsible for this article to be released now in the first place.
Second to Tom Willey, Your report is twelve years old.
Third to Sarah Taber, you cannot link being poor to eating poorly no more than you can link being wealthy to eating wealthy. Poor causal linkage and if you are in the educational system then you should know better.
I believe this is once again an attack on the use of chemicals by people who have some misguided ideas on needing to eat “all natural”. I like the statement made above about how even organic sprays are pesticides. How about eliminating those too? God gave us the intelligence to work with all the elemental ingredients on this earth and these companies are coming up with some good methods for combating the pests of our produce. I can’t imagine a company that would put out a product that would knowingly cause harm as it would be like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Let’s think people.